If ever you need a breather in between the tourist traps of Chinatown and the pricey cafes of Outram Park, there’s a quiet nook in the area called The Social Space. A new multi-concept lifestyle center nestled among tenants who’ve been there forever on Kreta Ayer Road, the unassuming space looks minimalistic from the outside, but step in and you’ll find a wonderland full of socially and environmentally conscious products and services.
Set up by husband-and-wife entrepreneurial duo Cheryl Ou and Daniel Yeow, The Social Space is home to a tea bar and cafe, a fair trade retail section, a florist, a “refillery” area, and a nail salon run by The Nail Social, which Ou co-founded to help underprivileged women. But even though they’ve got multiple concepts in one unit, it never feels crowded — instead, it’s a laidback place to laze the day away.
Brimming with rustic Bali vibes (no surprise here, since the couple previously lived in Bali for two years) the store is decked out with woven Balinese items, a three meter-long wooden table made of repurposed wood from an old bridge in Java, and a hand-painted wall mural by Indonesian artist Budi Agung Kuswara.
In support of eco-friendly causes, the shop advocates low waste initiatives, such as using steel and glass straws instead of plastic ones, as well as reusable bottles and takeaway cups.
Which brings us to that “refillery.” The idea here is to reduce packaging waste by encouraging customers to bring their own household containers, which they can then fill up with surface cleaner ($0.20/10g), dishwasher liquid ($0.10/10g), and floor cleaner ($0.10/10g). These enzyme-based cleaning products by EcoSenses are made with fruit peels collected from local vendors, in collaboration with the volunteer-based welfare organization MINDS, which provides employment opportunities for individuals with cognitive disabilities.
Pet shampoo ($0.34/10g) by Vermont Soap is also available, as are shampoo ($0.58/10g), conditioner ($0.58/10g), and hand wash ($0.34/10g) items by Ecostore, which creates products without the addition of toxic (or unnecessary) chemicals.
As for the retail area, it’s stocked with handcrafted goods from countries around the region, including Indonesia, Borneo, Malaysia, and Thailand. Here’s where you can pick up accessories designed by women from marginalized communities, cakes created in partnership with a local social enterprise that trains young people with disabilities, jewelry made by female survivors of Thailand’s sex trafficking trade, and loads more.
Should you fancy a bouquet of fresh flowers or loose stalks of dried blooms, then there’s a florist section too, operated by local floral design studio LushWoods.
When you’re done shopping or getting a manicure (also done with non-toxic, cruelty-free products), then there’s also food and coffee at the cafe, which offers a small menu that leans towards healthy eats.
Smoothie bowls ($10-$12) like the Pink Flamingo (dragonfruit, papaya, banana, and soy milk), or The Hulk (matcha, banana, spinach, avocado, and coconut milk) come with a serving of fresh fruits, homemade granola, and coconut flakes. For slightly carb-heavier options, then there’s the single or double open-faced toast ($7-$18) topped with everything from avocado and hardboiled egg to smoked salmon and cream cheese.
On the drinks side, you’ve got a wider selection, with teas like organic lemongrass and spiced chai from Amba Estate in Sri Lanka ($6-$12), tea blends such as Earl Grey with French vanilla or passion fruit and jasmine ($6-$10) from California’s Art of Tea, tea lattes ($6-$7) in flavors like chamomile lavender and Earl Grey rose, as well as cold brew coffees and teas ($5-$8).
Alternatively, you can go for your regular espresso ($4) or cappuccino ($5), sparkling fruit sodas ($5) by The Tapping Tapir, or fair trade Belgian hot chocolate ($6).
Sip, chill, repeat.
The Social Space is at #01-14, 333 Kreta Ayer Rd. Mon, Wed-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9am-6pm.